I turned, awestruck to them, "Um...is that a mirage? I mean..." I trailed off as I saw them smiling. "Okay, but what is my job in this? And what are your names? I still don't know who you are."


The girl gave a little laugh and said, "Right. I forgot about that, sorry. I am Erin Slate, and this is my grandfather, Carl Slate. We found this place when I got lost and he came looking for me. Actually Suicuine found us, and guided us to this place to get some food and rest. When I got back, I found that Team Rocket had captured my parents. I found out two weeks later that they had been killed."


Erin's eyes went to her feet, but I heard the pain in her voice, "You don't need to go on." I said, "I think I understand."


Erin's eyes came up, filling with tears, "Do you? Do you know what it's like to learn the only legitimate government in Kanto,” she meant Team Rocket, of course, “killed your parents? Then being put on the hit list with your grandfather? Then, after all that, having to run away from civilization and jump at the slightest sound in the forest? Mew and the Legendary Beasts let us hole up here, or we would surely be dead by now."


Carl Slate had closed the doors to the elevator while Erin was talking, and I felt my stomach go up to my throat again. I stood there, feeling like an idiot. I wasn't sure if I should put my arm around her and try to comfort her, since I had only just met her. I said, "No, I didn't know that-" suddenly I turned my gaze on Carl Slate. He was an old man, maybe about the same age as Professor Oak, and the Slate that Oak talked about...what he did-"Sir, Just a question that I have from hanging around Professor Oak, are you the same Carl Slate that made the Pokedex?"


The old man laughed, "Young man, made it? You could say that. You should see the encyclopedia I have just on the Nidoran families. Oak, that old coot, he was a really good trainer, and, if I may say so, as good as Ash Ketchum was in his own time. Yes sir, it was me, Oak, and a girl by the name of Agatha Fraley, we went on our journeys together, and together no one could stand in our way. It's no wonder that Agatha is a member of the Elite Four." He laughed softly, "Why, I remember when I gave Lance a Dratini, he was so thrilled, his first Pokemon...I could tell you about Bruno and Lorelei, but you aren't here to talk about them."


I stared at him, my mouth open, "you actually KNEW all the members of the Elite Four???" I asked, incredulously.


He looked back at me, a twinkle in his eyes, "Why, yes, of course I do. In fact Agatha is actually engaged to me." My jaw sagged even lower; if that was possible, and my eyes were huge, he must have seen this, and he said, "yes sir, once upon a time, Oak, Agatha, Lance, and I made up the Elite Four. Then Oak and I decided that we'd just keep Pokémon training as a hobby, and we quit. We handpicked Bruno and Lorelei as our successors. They have been almost undefeated since then, and if I went back there and booted out Bruno, we would be! I am sure! Ah, we're here. Tyco, meet the world of Rocket-Bane, the place where we train trainers to defeat Team Rocket." He gestured behind me, at the door that I came in through, and I turned around.


I saw a cavern at least ten miles across, with houses surrounding a large lake in the exact center of the cavern, and in the center of that, there was a pillar that rose up at least a thousand feet out of the water, and perched on that-I glanced at Slate, to see if this was some kind of a joke, a hallucination made by the Abra up there at the entrance, he merely grinned and shook his head. There, in all their glory, sat Lugia, Ho-oh, Articuno, Moltres, and Zapdos, providing almost all the light for the cavern from within themselves.


Erin came up next to me and said, "Night and Day down here is decided by them, they're our Elite Four, so to speak, but actually the Elite Five. If a trainer thinks that he is ready to face the Rockets, he must take all his Pokémon and challenge them, and, if he wins, he can go and challenge Mew. If he defeats the Pokemon in the Caves of the Free, then he is proclaimed ready to join the Rocket-Bane army, which now consists of the Pokemon trained by each gym, but they have no trainer to speak of. There are a few humans, of course, but they’re specialists in other fields."


I glanced over at her and asked, "How many have defeated the Birds, the Beasts, and Mew?"


She tossed a grin over at me, and said, "No one. Only I have defeated the birds, and I have challenged the Mew and the Beasts several times, I have defeated Mew before along with Raikou and Entei, but Suicine always stops me. I just can't defeat him. Well, actually, that isn't true. I have defeated him, but that time Mew defeated me."


I gazed at her in awe, if the power of the Legendary Pokémon were what they were reputed to be, she must have Powerful Pokémon indeed. She took my hand and pulled me down into the city, and I followed numbly, and tried to follow her as best that I could. She leaped nimbly over the stairs, but I had to watch my step to keep from tumbling down the steep staircase. I was dazed that the old Professor in the elevator, not only knew about Pokémon more than anyone ever would know, but that he once knew Lance and Agatha in the Elite Four, hand-picked his successors, and knew Professor Oak, plus he had this hidden city and had the Legendary Pokémon with him.


Erin pulled me inside a tall building that I would later learn was called The Library, and I just stood there, looking over the craftsmanship with awe, the entire city was sculpted out of solid stone, and this was no exception, this particular building had been carved out of Limestone, and this made the entire building sparkle in the light of the Birds. Its spires pointed towards the surface like accusing fingers. She let go of my hand, and I wandered around the Library. In it, I found books on every type of Pokémon. Screw that, encyclopedias full of information on each breed. Oh yeah, one last thing…the library looked like an Alakazam.


I’ve always liked to read, and this place had twenty-five floors of books. I wasted a good four hours just exploring the place. I wandered through the library, and went through the “body” of the Alakazam, and eventually reached the “head.” This was where the information on Rocket-Bane, Kanto, Johto, and other countries were kept. Then I came to a book on a pedestal, and in its pages I found the code of the city of Rocket-Bane. Pretty simple, but still, I read the entire book carefully.


I learned that I, if I decided to stay here, was expected to choose six Pokémon, and raise them. I wasn't expected to catch any more, unless they died, or if I beat the Birds, and the Beasts and Mew. If I defeated the Birds, I got to have three more Pokémon with me, if I defeated Mew, I got five more, If I defeated all three Beasts, I would be able to have a grand total of fourteen Pokémon with me at any time. You could only have fourteen if you had defeated both Mew and the Beasts. You could have all of them with you, at the same time. You could only have a grand total of fourteen. You could have no more than fourteen, but, certainly, you could have less. Those who had fourteen Pokémon were masters of the Rocket-Bane society, and so far, only Erin Slate came close, but Carl Slate was a master in good standing, and had been for at least twenty years.


I turned away from that book, and then I saw it, in a corner, shrouded by shadows, stood another book. When I approached it, I saw that it was a journal of all the atrocities that Team Rocket had ever done from the failed Mewtwo experiment to genetic splicing of Pokemon’s genes, and a list of the members of Team Rocket, past and present. As I read, I grew more and more incensed, and I slammed the book shut, my face red hot with anger, and went to look up my favorite Pokémon.




After a couple more hours reading about the history of a strange, xenophobic country called Tintia, Erin came and found me. I was sitting down in a corner of the library, reading in low light. My face was still drawn tight with anger, and I was practically glaring at the book as I read it, even though I found the information very interesting, I couldn't concentrate, because I was remembering lines from that book, what Team Rocket had done. How they had tortured Pokémon, had created Mewtwo, and made him a monster, and how they had hunted him down and shot him up even after Mewtwo was nothing but a tangled mess of skin, bones, and blood. I had discovered that Team Rocket no longer just used Pokémon, but now the elite had guns and used them to terrorize entire cities that didn't obey them.


She took one look at my face and said cheerfully, “So, you really hate Tintians, don’t you?”


I looked up to see who was interrupting me, and then blushed, “Well, no…it’s not this book. It’s the…” I trailed off, not sure of what to say.


“Oh,” she said quietly, "that book. It’s all true, Tyco, every single word. Most are things that I wish weren’t true, but they are.” She sat down next to me and we stayed there, quietly, for a few minutes. “I have some news for you, Tyco, and that’s why I came to find you.”


I sighed, and looked up at her, “Yeah, what is it?” I asked hesitantly, having the feeling that I wouldn’t like her answer.


She was silent for a few moments, then looked into my face, “Tyco,” she said softly, “I heard from Gramps that your family was arrested a few hours ago for helping insurgents against the Rockets.”


I heard her words, and stared at her, the words not quite sinking in. Then I realized what she meant. My eyes narrowed, and I felt rage boiling up within me. “Jim.” I muttered under my breath.


“What?” Erin asked me, I guess she didn’t really hear me very well, but, well, I did say it quietly.


“Jim Farston.” I made a face and slammed my fist into the ground, “He was always spying on us. I knew my parents were giving supplies to insurgents, but I never thought that Jim would find out about it. I’m gonna get him.” I stood, and moved towards the door, then turned and glared at Erin, “Thanks to you and that book, I know what’s going to happen to my family. I have to go and rescue them!” I turned to go.


Erin leaped to her feet, “Tyco! Use your head! Even if you got back to Viridian City, how would you get into their base, which, by the way, is guarded by armed guards? How would you even make it that far, since they’d be on the lookout for you?” I flexed my fists, not liking Erin’s argument, and liking even less that it made sense. “Right now, there’s nothing you can do for them. The question is now, knowing what they've done, can you stand idly by while Team Rocket subjects other countries and other families to the same tyranny?”


I glared at Erin, “What are you saying? Will we just sit around, waiting to die, while the Rockets ravage the world above? Or will we fight back; drive them into the sea—never again to exist?”


Erin shook her head and smiled, “I have made my choice, and it is irrevocable. My decision was to destroy Team Rocket, and make sure it never came back. But we can’t strike out in anger. We have to have cool heads and be prepared. Whatever choice you make at this moment will also be irrevocable, what you decide will be your guiding factor for the rest of your life. Will you just stand by, or will you strike back?"


I needed no time to think, my eyes were blazing, I knew, and I slammed the book shut and slammed it onto the table, "I had decided when I shut that Rocket Book, but it’s even more concrete now that they have my family! Even if you only give me a Magikarp, I would fight back until my dying breath! Now sign me up and show me the Pokémon!"


Erin nodded solemnly, “You have made your choice, and you will be bound to it for the rest of your life. You won’t see the light of day again until you have completed the challenge of Rocket-Bane and the Halls of the Tribes. Most likely, it’ll take years.”


I opened my mouth to protest, but then I realized I had made my choice the second I started reading the Rocket-Bane Code book, and that this was the smartest choice. But that didn’t mean that I liked not getting my family to safety as soon as possible. Inwardly sighing, I looked up at her, and smiled weakly, “Then let’s get started, shall we?”




Professor Shale looked around at the council of Rocket-Bane, and most were frowning at him. “Shale!” a muscular man shouted, “I can’t believe you did this! This could easily be a ploy to put a spy in our ranks! We don’t know anything about him!”


Another man stood up, “This was the last item of business for the day, and I must have some rest and exercise my Pokémon still!”


“Peter, sit down,” a girl with long, black hair said quietly, “We don’t need to judge this boy until we know more about him.” She turned to Professor Shale, “Carl, do you think that he is a spy?”


Shale took a deep breath and looked back up at her, meeting her gaze, not flinching, proud of the achievement, “Sabrina, I do not think that he is a spy. He was genuinely scared when we sprung the trap, of course, but I do not think that he is a spy. Mew has probed his mind, our trusty Abra has as well, and I assume that you have as well, Sabrina. Do you think that they would have taken his family into custody if he was a spy?”


The muscular man shot out of his seat, “This is all part of a plot to put a spy in our ranks! The boy’s family is most likely dining in high style right now! We can’t trust him!”


A young girl looked up at the muscular man, “But why would he have mentioned the double agent Jim Farston as turning his family in if he were a spy?”


“Because he knew about this Farston fellow.” Shale looked around the council. “However, from what I know at this moment, I don’t think he is a spy.”


The young girl bowed her head towards him in a gesture of deference, “Yes, Professor, it is as you say.”


The muscular man stood, hand hovering over the doorknob, “And your conclusion?”


“Sit down,” the girl Shale referred to as Sabrina commanded, “Sit back down in your chair. We are not done discussing this boy yet.” The muscular man hesitated, and Sabrina fixed him with her penetrating gaze. The man hurried back to his chair and sat down like a schoolboy told to go to the principal’s office, “My conclusion,” she continued, turning back to Shale, and ignoring the muscular man, “Is that the boy is exactly what you believed him to be, Shale. I tapped into the Rocket records for Viridian City, and his family owns—owned— the Pokémart there.”


The muscular man jumped to his feet again, “All the more reason to suspect him!” Sabrina glared at him, and, when he noticed her, he sat down quickly once more.


A young girl on the other side of the room spoke up softly, “I see no reason right now that he should be sent to the surface.” The man shot to his feet once more, and her eyes shot to him, a trace of fear in her eyes, “We couldn’t send him to the surface, Surge, I know. But we couldn’t kill him. It’s against our ethics!”


Surge’s temper flared, “When I get to him, there won’t be anything left!”


The girl glared right back, “If that is so, then you’ll be removed from your seat! I agree with Sabrina, Surge. SIT DOWN!”


Shale smiled, an expression of relief across his face. “Very well. If Sabrina thinks that the boy is not a spy, normally that would be enough for me. However, these times are not normal,” an old man began from across the room, “I do not believe that he should go unwatched through the streets of Rocket-Bane.”


An old man stood up, “I believe I have a compromise. We should post a person to watch him, and let us know if he does anything that we wouldn’t want.”


The muscular man burst out, “Blaine, we don’t have time for that! The kid is obviously a spy! I suggest we give him a test that will either kill him, or seriously injure him.”


Blaine frowned at the muscular man, “Surge, what are you saying?”


Surge frowned, “I don’t know, but if such a test was made available to us, I say that we take it.”


“Let us get back on what we had been talking about,” the girl, now playing with her Bulbasaur said cheerfully, “There has been a suggestion that we have someone keep tabs on him. Does the council have any suggestions?” the girl looked around, and everyone looked away, not wanting to meet her gaze. “There are no suggestions?” the girl asked, incredulous.


Shale coughed, “Erika, I believe I have one suggestion that could be the answer to all of our problems. They are already friends. May I present her to the Council?”


Sabrina nodded her head, “By all means, Carl, present her to us.”


A door opened, and Erin burst in, “Hey, Gramps! You said something about a job?”